KANSAS CITY, Mo.–Brad Davis admits it's going to be strange walking onto the pitch for the first time at BBVA Compass Stadium in a Sporting Kansas City kit.
But just how strange? Ask him after Saturday's away date with the Houston Dynamo, with whom the veteran winger played 10 seasons and twice won MLS Cup.
“People have asked me the question, but I really don't know what the feeling necessarily is going to to be like, because I spent so much time with one club,"Davis told reporters after Friday's SKC training session. " I haven't bounced around really with clubs, to know what it feels like. I'm sure it's going to be different. I'm sure it's going to be a little weird. I'm sure there's going to be some emotion there."
Sporting, which picked up Davis in an off-season trade, are actually Davis' fifth MLS club–if you count the old San Jose Earthquakes, who moved to Houston after the 2005 season, as separate from the Dynamo. He broke into the league with the MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls) in 2002, and then spent two seasons in Dallas before joining San Jose in 2005.
Still, Houston was home for a decade, and that's not easily shrugged off.
“When you're a young kid and you're bouncing around, it doesn't necessarily mean the same,” Davis said. “When you've gone to a place, you've played for 10 years, you get married there, you have children there and all those things, it's a place that you essentially call home for a while, and where you grew your family. So obviously, it means a lot more.”
Davis' fiery on-pitch demeanor and Houston's success at Sporting's expense in the 2011 and 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs put him atop the enemies list of a lot of Kansas City fans. But he's won them over this year with his play, including a couple of goals and solid set-piece service.
Now, he'll be representing the team that knocked Houston out of the playoffs in 2013 on the way to Sporting's second MLS Cup title. They also bounced Houston from the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals last season.
“I know there's animosity between the two clubs and fans, but that's part of the sport,” Davis said. “It is a business, but it is a club that gave me an opportunity and really made me who I am, as far as my career goes. So I have a lot of respect still for that club and the people who are involved in it. I'm ready to go there and win a game, but ultimately I have a ton of respect and I'm looking forward to seeing everybody.”
But with points on the line in the Western Conference, and Sporting looking to snap a five-match winless streak, there will be little, if any, time for socializing.
“People have been hitting me up about tickets, and getting together, and meeting and visiting, and this and that,” Davis said. “It's definitely one of the things that I have to shut off, and they have to understand that I'm there for work. This isn't a vacation to come back to see everybody.
“Ultimately, I am going to see people, but I'm there for a job to do and they have to be able to respect that. I'm giving a lot of tickets out, but that's basically the extent of it.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com. Twitter: @SteveBrisendine